Just a few blogospheric FYIs. First, for all those readers who've come to know and love AFT's FACE agenda, they've just launched a new blog to discuss the issues facing academia that gave rise to FACE, as well as possible solutions. Check it out, and tell 'em wobs sent you.
On second thought, don't tell them I sent you. In fact, please don't bring me up at all. It'll be better for everyone that way. >wink<
And for those of you who'll be near a computer terminal on Wednesday, August 1, go check out Firedoglake at 1:30 PM EDT (10:30 PDT for you Left Coasters). Some folks you know have wrangled a spot for their writing. Much hilarity will ensue in the comments. Or some serious discussion. But do check it out.
Ween is hands-down the best live act I've ever seen. Ever. Maybe not the best musicians (although Deaner shreds with the ax). Not the best songwriters. Certainly not the best-mannered, and the maturity leaves a lot to be desired. But holy shit, if their shows aren't marathon booze-and-drug fueled epics.
In the psychedelic-fueled days of college and the immediate post-college years, a Ween show was looked forward to more than Christmas by a seven year old. Four hour marathons of inspired lunacy, walking the knife's edge between genius and complete and utter shit. On any given night, they were simultaneously the best and worst band on earth. I've been to shows where I swear they should have been dead by the end of it. Seriously. Dead. And I can remember leaving those shows thinking it was the best concert I'd ever seen. And then I'd see them six months later, and they'd top themselves.
They're older now, but judging by the more recent clips, the shows are still dionysian free-for-alls. Here's an unprecedented five-clip PRM dedicated to the brownest of the brown. All hail Boognish! All hail Ween!
"Marble Tulip Juicy Tree" from 1991, featuring the band's original line-up, Gene Ween, Dean Ween, and a tape player for a rhythm section:
A 1995, space-cake fueled European performance of "Poop Ship Destroyer" - the aforementioned simultaneous best and worst band in the world:
From 2000, a song that signifies everything that is good about Ween, "Awesome Sound":
Also from 2000 (April 20, if you want to be specific), "Roses Are Free":
And finally, a song that will forever in my mind be associated with coming down, "Booze Me Up and Get Me High" from 2005:
A guy like me could get used to the red meat John Edwards is doling out, especially when it comes at the expense of a douchebag like Mitt Romney:
"The truth is Mitt Romney shouldn't pay lower taxes on the money he makes from his money than middle-class families pay on the money they make from hard work. Neither should I. We're both incredibly fortunate and we should pay our fair share.
"That's the big difference between people like Mitt Romney and me. Mitt Romney thinks he and his insider friends helped make America great, I think it's the hundreds of millions of Americans in the working class and middle class who make America great. It's these hard-working families who deserve a break and a chance to live the same American Dream as I have. That's what I'm fighting for, and that's what people like Mitt Romney have spent a lifetime fighting against."
The Oregon gang will be excited to hear that I'm going to see Mark H. and baby Q. this weekend when the come down from Philly for a visit. No word yet on whether the dissertating Mara F. will be joining them for the adventure.
A plurality of Republican's don't really know Giuliani beyond what they've seen on 9/11:
Republicans are more than willing to throw their "values" under the bus in order to remain in power.
Republicans still believe that the mere mention of "9/11" and anyone associated with that tragic day is enough to put the majority of the electorate into a catatonic haze where they'll pull the lever for any authoritarian jackass.
My bets are on numbers 2 and 3. Giuliani hasn't made any apologies for his cosmopolitanism (nor should he), and given that he still has the glow of 9/11 "leadership" on him, at least for Republicans, I think most of the GOoPers are willing to give him a pass in order to have someone in office who wants to kick some brown people's ass (both foreign and domestic).
Unfortunately for them, a growing majority of the country has learned that when Sept. 11 is invoked by Republicans, it's usually being used to make a steaming pile of horseshit smell like petunias. That air freshener ain't working anymore, and the stench of corruption, greed, and mismanagement that accompanies Rudy will only grow stronger as the campaign continues. And the truth of the matter is, his 9/11 performance left a lot to be desired:
Jeebus, if they think Rudy is electable, I wonder why they find others not-so-electable...
Green medulla, blue medulla, old medulla, new medulla
Given the big life changes that have occurred, and an overwhelming compulsion to simplify, I'm considering re-designing the template for ye olde medulla noodle. I don't hate the current template, but it's safe to say that I've fallen out of love with it. It's too busy for my current tastes, and I'd like it to be have some cleaner lines and less going on in the sidebar (good-bye to most of those tacky buttons!).
But before I got monkeying around with things, I have a few questions for you, dear readers. First and foremost, how attached are you to the current template? God forbid I've actually branded the noodle with this look, but I'd hate to upset anyone by completely scrapping something that you like. So what do you think should go, what should stay, like/hate the current color, etc. etc.?
(Those of you who are less than technically proficient about the ins and outs of blogging platforms can tune out here) I'm planning on upgrading the Blogger template designer, per their insistence, to customize the look. I've not done this yet because I haven't wanted to redo everything on the site. FYI, I plan on saving a copy of the code for the current template, so I'll be able to reintegrate the things I want to keep and toss the rest, but I want to know how much of a hassle I'm going to put myself through. My questions - how nicely does the new template designer play with Haloscan, Site Meter, Technorati, Creative Commons, etc.? Is it easy to drop code into the new designer, or will I be dealing strictly with Web 2.0 interfaces? Will fucking with the current comments set-up mess with my Haloscan archives? Anything else I should know about?
Ignoring the debates, but feeling the need to post some marginally politically-related content
Yeah, I know all of you are watching (and blogging) the debates, but I just can't bring myself to do it. Eight podiums, one minute answers... ugh. It's all style and no substance - just the thing that got us in to our current predicament some seven years ago when Candidate Gore rolled his eyes and sighed. And yes, I know the packaging is important, and I always make sure to watch a debate in the general election, but I really don't understand the appeal of political debates beyond the mere sport of it. At any rate, living where I live and working where I work, I'll get my chance to see these folks in an environment where they're not playing to the sound bite as much, where they'll have an opportunity to expand upon their ideas and maybe add some substance to the pithy one-liners their consultants have relentlessly focus-grouped.
I've already had the opportunity to see two of the candidates, although they weren't the bigshots by any stretch. Chris Dodd came off as an amiable wonk. He knew his shit, but I don't agree with some of his policy prescriptions. Nice enough guy, though. Kucinich gave a hella good presentation - well framed, visionary, and hitting on all the right policy points for me. Those who know me know I have a soft spot for the little socialist vegan from Cleveland, even if he can't win. He further ingratiated himself to me (and a few of my colleagues with whom I spoke) when he quoted Eugene Debs during his hour with us. What's not to love?
Bonus political fun fact: if Americans were only slightly more shallow than they are and chose their president by the attractiveness of the potential First Spouse, shortly after noon (nine in the West) on January 20, 2009, we'd be listening to President Dennis Kucinich's inaugural speech. I kid you not.
Hang the bunting and cue the fanfare! PRM is back! Or better yet, cue Killdozer!
Circa 1983, "River" and "Ed Gein!"
I was turned on to Killdozer in college by my friend Nathaniel, who let me know that their sludgy, swampy country-blues predated the murk of the Melvins by half a decade. Moreover, their (half-ironic) wallowing in working class anti-intellectualism served to take the edge of any other musical pretensions I might have had - despite the growing experimentalism in their mid-90s work. But I mostly appreciated them for being the quintessential "I'm having a shitty day so fuck you" band to blare out of your room when the mood was right - or wrong, as the case may be.
From 1995, "Knuckles the Dog (Who Helps People)"
And, from 1996, a cover of Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl"
President Bush yesterday rejected entreaties by his Republican allies that he compromise with Democrats on legislation to renew a popular program that provides health coverage to poor children, saying that expanding the program would enlarge the role of the federal government at the expense of private insurance.
The president said he objects on philosophical grounds to a bipartisan Senate proposal to boost the State Children's Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over five years. Bush has proposed $5 billion in increased funding and has threatened to veto the Senate compromise and a more costly expansion being contemplated in the House.
"Objects on philosophical grounds," my ass. Bush will expand public spending when it serves to enrich his cronies or allows him to play toy soldier in the Situation Room, but expend some scratch to provide poor kids with some health care? He's got to pretend to have principles.
The sociologist in me always wants to warn that there are structural tendencies which compel political leaders to act in certain ways, but the folks in the Bush administration are downright evil.
It's bound to happen - when any holy man can issue a religious edict, something really bizarre [via] is sure to slip through. Of course, that's not to say that a religion with a central controlling authority can be any lessfuckedup.
There's a reason all the millionaires flock to Sun Valley in Idaho's Sawtooth Range - it's stunningly beautiful. Where I camped my first night out, in the national forest just north of Fairfield, was by far the best camping of the trip. Gorgeous weather, a nice tranquil spot by a stream, no camping neighbors... bliss.
The Idaho National Laboratory is bizarre. Miles and miles of empty desert criss-crossed with dozens of powerlines that all converge at what looks like a tiny, tiny village. I'm sure most of the action was underground.
Jackson Hole has become horribly overdeveloped, and the air quality of the valley has deteriorated to the point where, viewing them from the south, the Tetons were shrouded in a pale brown haze.
In Eugene and in DC, I don't feel that I stand out too much. On the other hand, judging from the stares I got in Casper, Wyoming, I must have had "FREAK" tattooed across my forehead.
Surprisingly, eastern Wyoming was the most bug-infested (with HUGE bugs) place I encountered on the trip.
Aside from the bluffs in the North Platte River valley in the western part of the state, Nebraska is B-O-R-I-N-G and L-O-N-G.
My god, if Western Iowa isn't the most wholesome fucking place on earth...
There are beautiful hills and gorges in southern Indiana, of all places.
Trying to find a camping spot in West Virginia on the weekend before July 4th is impossible. I should know - I covered a good third of the state looking for one.
We'll leave aside for the time being the clusterfuck that was the actual, physical translocation process (but to briefly sum up, I wholeheartedly recommend that you not ever consider using ABF Freight Services to haul your shit)...
A wise man recently told me that moving away from our loved ones is one of those life events that is so rare, we have no idea how to emotionally negotiate them. We fall back on dominant cultural narratives (like the "Friends" finale) or just try to wing it the best we can. In my case, if I had to do it all over again... well, maybe I just wouldn't move. But I certainly wouldn't repeat how I left Eugene.
Simply put, there's no good way to say goodbye to people whose lives have become inextricably linked with your own, who you've come to rely on for counsel, for humor, for support. And when I say there's no good way to say goodbye, I mean I did an absolutely lousy job of it for those who actually got a goodbye. And then there are those important people who didn't even get a lousy goodbye, which puts me in contention for the title of Jerk of the Century - and it's an awfully young century. I waited and waited for the perfect time to say goodbye... and then it was time to go.
So to my dear friends in Eugene, I'm still heartbroken from leaving you, and I'm embarrassed and sad that none of you got the goodbyes you deserved - or at all. Please accept my apologies and know that I love you all and think about you often. I'll never be able to tell you how important you've been to my life and how much I value your friendship. And know that the goodbyes we had (or didn't), lousy as they were, weren't so much "goodbyes" as "see ya laters."